Monday, August 3, 2009

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

A perennial plant without chlorophyll

I always get a little excited when I see an Indian Pipe along the trail. (That small white area to the white of the trail in this photo.)

I always thought they were a fungus, but apparently they are a parasitic plant that feeds on decaying wood.

They are also called corpse plant or ghost plant.

Less common than the white variety, there are pink variations.

Perhaps this line of plants is feeding on a downed limb or tree.

Because they do not produce food with chlorophyll, they can grow in very dark parts of the forest where other plants can't survive.

Some areas have many plants.

This similar plant (Monotropa hypopitys) is called Dutchman's Pipe or Pinesap or Yellow Bird's-Nest.

We only found a few examples of it.

Who knew that there are parasitic plants thriving in our local forests?


Theresa said...

Very cool plants! What wonders are on a forest floor.

sheilabythebeach said...

Those are totally wonderful plants, kind of creepy but so unique!
Great to learn new things, thank you!

Dorothy said...

You photographs are beautiful, what an amazing plant. Thank you!

Chris said...

I've heard of these plants but I'm not sure I've ever seen them. I'll have to keep my eyes open on my hikes through the woods.

Jennifer said...

What a great eye to catch it - and a good curioisty to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing!

Delighted Hands said...

I am afraid to say I have seen them on walks in our NY years but I never took the time to find out what they were-thanks for the info. I will remember it.

charlotte said...

So very interresting, I have never heard about parasitic plants without chlorophyll. Here we have some perennial plants that feed on other plants roots, almost like mykhorriza (fungus feeding on plant roots), but they are not pale like the Indian pipes, they are purple or green.

bspinner said...

I have never seen anything like thesse plants. How Cool!!!
Thanks for taking the pictures and sharing them along with so much information with us.

Always a good day when you learn something new.

Deanna said...

Have I told you lately how much I love your blog?!Fascinating!

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for your positive comments!!! I love preserving different little things I'm interested in my blog....but sometimes I wander pretty far from yarn or weaving or creativity!! Thanks for sticking with me!

My favorite photo of this batch is that pale pink plant with the green leaves in the background. Don't know if it will inspire me to some artistic creation, but I love that photo. (And I wish it was the result of careful thought and composition - rather that I shot a lot of pictures of Indian Pipes and got some I really like.)

Interesting that there are possibly similar plants in Norway, but they are pale purple or green.


Anonymous said...

Lovely and strange and interesting plants! Something new to check out at the Brooklyn Botanic. Thanks for the info and the beautiful pics.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved Indian Pipes (and prefer that name to some of the others!) but I don't think I've seen that pink variety... beautiful! Do you think there are more during damp years? I feel like I've seen more this year but maybe I'm just paying better attention.

Susan Holmes said...

Oops, that was me in anonymous, obviously I haven't quite got the hang of leaving comments on blogs


Life Looms Large said...

'll be curious about whether they have Indian Pipes in botanical gardens. Because they seem to need decaying wood to grow, they are apparently very difficult to transplant. Some one has probably unlocked the secret to that.

Susan! Great to see you here!! To me, it does seem like this wet year has caused Indian Pipes to be more numerous than usual. I guess if decaying wood is somehow involved in the growth, a wet year would have more decaying wood, so more Indian Pipes too.

I don't remember seeing the large groups of plants that I see this year in years past. But photographing and blogging does make me notice things differently, so I can't be sure.

I also wonder if the lack of sunlight has held back the growth of green plants, making the Indian Pipes more noticeable.

I'd never heard of pink Indian Pipes until I took a couple of pictures to post. When I read about the pink variety, I decided to see if we had any in our woods....and sure enough I found a few. So now that you know about them, you might see them too!